Letter to the Editor

Concerns about interchange plan

Sunday, July 10, 2005

To the editor:

I enjoyed the well-written series of articles on the new Jackson-Cape Girardeau Interstate 55 interchange, and I believe it will probably be a good thing for the region. However, the articles leave a few questions unanswered and fail to emphasize some important points.

While all of the involved governmental entities congratulate themselves for reducing their respective contributions to the project, may I remind everyone that all of the financing still comes from the taxpayers of Missouri. That likely includes the Southeast Missouri State University's plans for a life sciences research center and campus.

With $5.8 million budgeted for the interchange, $3.1 million for redoing County Road 618, the amount already approved for phase two of the East Main Street extension by Jackson and the university's research center, this is really a $10 million to $15 million project.

The taxpayers need to understand that there are major risks that the new interchange may spur some modest development, like at the Fruitland exit, or may amount to little, like at the new Oak Ridge interchange. Certainly we should know what projects are not going to be completed, and we should know if developers like Lorimont Ltd. and others stand to make a windfall from taxpayers' money. As one taxpayer I would be disappointed to realize that with our $10 million-plus investment we ended up with an interchange that features just another gas station, restaurant and motel to show for our efforts.